On the Internet, pretty much everyone can hear you scream.
I came across this unintentionally hilarious Q&A on the Guardian's web site (via the good folks at Metafilter ). The Guardian runs these sessions where readers can log in and post questions to various firms, and said firms respond on the web site. This particular session involved Neal's Yard Remedies, a homeopathic products store specializing in, among other things, various nice-smelling creams and the like.
Problem is, the Guardian's readers (about 250 of them before the editors shut down comments altogether) were more interested in whether NYR actually had any evidence to back up the health claims it makes about some of its products. Hundreds of tough and mocking questions later, NYR reps ran off, and the whole Q&A hit a tree.
Is there anything the Internet is better-suited for than these spontaneous outbursts of democratic mockery? Well, yes, pornography. But besides that, there's nothing the Internet does better.
Who can forget the numbingly frustrating exchange with a Verizon rep that became a massive web hit after a frustrated customer put it on-line? The unfortunately erotic McDonald's ad ? The best airline complaint letter ever? All of these things, in the good old Web-0.0 days, could have simply lived short lives as minor corporate embarrassments. This is no longer the case. An entire generation is growing up with absolutely no concept of what it was like to complain before the Internet was around. The other week, when Air Canada helpfully oversold my flight, my first thought was, "this won't stand. Time to Twitter that noise."
Of course, Air Canada didn't go bankrupt the next day because of the godlike reach of my Twitter feed. But every once in a while, when enough people pool their rage, they reach critical mass, and the result is real corporate change. Or at the very least, comedy gold.